In the case of the Web 2.0 Watermill, there are primarily four areas where technology is beginning to facilitate a vastly improved Internet: knowledge collection, knowledge discovery, knowledge building, and knowledge sharing.
– Ken Yarmosh, Why Web 2.0 Matters to your Business
In today’s job market, employees come and ago. But hopefully all of the knowledge they possess doesn’t. If you are smart, then your business probably has some overlap between the various positions and roles that each team member fills.
Having some sort of back-up is particularly important for a small business or a team based larger organization. Subject matter experts while crucial to the success of a project can be equally detrimental if they leave and no one else knows what they knew.
Knowledge building is a step beyond this potential problem. It assumes that the good practice of knowledge collection occurs on a regular basis. It’s importance comes in the fact that with this knowledge (often referred to as “data”) at our fingertips, decisions can be made more easily.
Outside of the enterprise, new ideas of knowledge building are springing-up. They are often referred to as “mash-ups”. The ideas behind a mash-up is to take the data of one source and combine it with a web application to make it richer and more valuable. One often referred to mash-up example is Housing Maps – it combines data from craigslist and Google Maps.
These types of applications could be tremendously useful inside the corporate firewall. Imagine, if the data from the social bookmarking tool I referred to in earlier post could be synthesized and then put on the intranet portal homepage. There are many implementations of this idea that could become the business manager’s “dashboard” of the future.
Using another approach, knowledge building would not have to be that technically advanced. It could be as simple as ensuring that your employees were regularly contributing to their part of a wiki. Others would then build on top of the knowledge others have contributed – making edits or contributing new content.
If you are a business owner or manager, there is no better way to protect yourself from employees jumping ship with lots of propriety knowledge they’ve never shared than to consistently encourage knowledge building. Without doing so is potentilly quite costly.